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Jimenez double-double paces top-ranked Huskies past Banks in non-conference road game

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER OERTELL - North Marion senior post John Page puts pressure on Banks senior guard Jarred Evans in the Huskies 52-39 win over the Braves on Tuesday, Jan. 7.The No. 1 North Marion boys basketball team continues to make its case as the top 4A team in the state after rallying from an early first-quarter deficit to claim a 52-39 victory over the defending state champion Banks Braves on Tuesday, Jan. 7.

Traveling north for their fourth consecutive road game to open 2020, the Huskies found themselves down 17-10 after the first quarter. However, they were able to adjust on the fly, holding the Braves to just 22 points over the final three quarters thanks to pesky 2-3 zone defense that limited interior possessions and forced Banks to prove themselves from outside, where they shot just 2-of-22 from behind the 3-point line.

"We just didn't make smart decisions attacking it," Banks head coach Marc Roche said. "And when we did get looks and didn't make them, it doesn't give you much of a chance."

North Marion senior Sergio Jimenez fueled the Huskies' rally, going off for 23 points and 13 rebounds to lead both teams. Jimenez repeatedly attacked inside, putting fellow all-state wing Jacob Slifka in early foul trouble. This allowed the Husky forward further opportunity to dominate the paint, where he finished eight-of-17 from the field and seven-of-eight from the free-throw line.

Jimenez also led the Huskies with three assists and two blocks, to go along with a steal.

Early on, it looked as if the Braves were ready to reclaim their mantle as the top team in the state, hitting early and often en route to a big first-quarter lead. Slifka and Jarred Evans — two of the Braves' key contributors — accounted for 12 of the first 15 points, and when Cade Buchanan scored late in the opening stanza, Banks led 17-8 and appeared poised to walk-over the top-ranked Huskies. North Marion, however, had a different idea, and put that idea on display in the second quarter, outscoring Banks 13-4 to take a 23-21 lead to the half.

The Huskies built their lead to seven in the third quarter and poured it on in the fourth, scoring 13 of the quarter's first 17 points, thanks in large part to Jimenez, who was responsible for eight of them.

"He's a really good player, who had a great night," Roche said.

Jimenez largely helped the Huskies make up for a rough night in other categories, trailing the Braves in turnovers (14 to 9), while the rest of the team hit three of eight free throws.

But the while the Huskies were hit-and-miss from the freebie line, the Braves were non-existent, taking just two free throws all game. And North Marion held a 42-37 edge in rebounds, thanks to contributing efforts from David Page (9 boards) and John Page (7).

Brady Hansen chipped in 10 points as the only other player to reach double figures in scoring.

North Marion (9-2) was scheduled to return to the court on Tuesday for a home game against Valley Catholic (3-9), followed by a trip to No. 9 Seaside (9-3) on Friday.

The Huskies open their league schedule on Tuesday, Jan. 21 at home against the Molalla Indians (2-9).

Wade Evanson contributed to this story.

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